I had a yoga teacher once who told me something that’s always stuck with me: you can do it all, just not all at once. The first time I heard this I thought to myself, that’s just not true, of course I can do it all and I can do it all now! I was someone who prided myself on being busy and making sure that every possible second I had was filled with something or someone. It’s no wonder that by the time I reached my early 30’s I was in a deep hole of anxiety and depression. It took me a long time to actually understand what my yoga teacher had said to me all those years ago; that being busy doesn’t equate to being impactful or even being productive, and it certainly doesn’t guarantee happiness.
With the holiday season upon us, I often think about how this time of year always seems to bring stress and anxiety right to the forefront. And as someone who lives with both an anxiety disorder and panic disorder, the craziness of the holidays can take a toll if I’m not careful and protective of myself. The holidays and all the madness that surrounds them often opens a floodgate of negative emotions making it even harder to keep myself from overcommitting and stepping back. The endless amounts of parties, food, alcohol and gifts, etc. are often accompanied with feelings of guilt, sadness, stress, and loneliness. But with the help of a good therapist and lots of self-love, I’ve learned how to make sure I don’t lose myself in all the holiday “cheer.”
Here are some ways that I’ve learned to deal with anxiety, stress, and being busy around the holidays:
Allowing yourself to say no
One of the most useful things I’ve learned from my therapist is that it’s ok to say no and put boundaries around myself. I try to practice the rule of “3,” allowing myself to say yes to 3 (and no more than this!) things during the holidays that I really want to attend and sticking to it.
Letting go of “perfect"
Nothing and no one is perfect and aiming for perfection during the holidays can lead to a lot of additional stress. Accepting that there is no perfect gift, party, etc. can help you enjoy and appreciate this time of year more.
This seems to be the first thing to go during the holiday season but it’s probably the most important to keep up with. Exercise relieves stress, releases endorphins, and does both a body and mind good. Even getting 20 minutes of walking on your lunch break can help relieve holiday anxiety.
Allowing yourself to be in a safe space
I’ve learned that it’s ok to take a break and find my safe spot for a little while if things are getting too hectic. I like to ride to the beach, or take a walk, or sometimes just read in bed. Allowing myself that time helps me stay calm.
Don’t overindulge on alcohol, food, shopping, etc.
This can be very tough to stick to with all the parties and commitments, but these enjoyments can quickly turn into guilt trips and feelings of sadness. Alcohol, especially, can amplify feelings of anxiety and depression.
See your doctor/therapist
One of the biggest mistakes I made in my anxiety journey was not seeking help soon enough. You don’t have to suffer and a therapist can help put things in perspective.
Anxiety support groups
There are some fantastic support groups in RI, including the Healing Anxiety Group at Butler Hospital.
Do you get stressed with how busy the holiday season is? What are some ways you cope with the holidays and being busy? Any additional anxiety and stress-relieving tips you’d like to share? Tell us!